When in doubt...
PART VI OF MY TRAVELS IN JAPAN SERIES
The next day when I headed out to go find the MT house I took a paper printed map since my phone wasn’t working. I also had the number to the MT house just in case I got lost. I walked towards the river in Asakusa. I generally have a sailors sense of direction but within two blocks I knew I was in trouble. I looked at the street names and my map and just kept heading in the direction I thought was correct. I would get to know this walk very well in the next month of my life. An alley of nameless tourist shops, go left. A gas station. Weird hotels. A graveyard. An array of private businesses that look as if they had been there forever. I tried to act as if I knew where I was going. I tried to ask a group of Japanese people. They literally just stared at me. Okay no problem I thought. The farther I walked the more impoverished the area looked although nothing like poor areas in other countries. I must be going in the right direction. After an hour I was dying of the heat and felt like I was going in circles. I walked up an alleyway loitered with people sitting outside. It smelled heavily of alcohol and uncleaniness. I showed the people sitting in the alleyway the paper with the name and address. They stared at me. I said “Mother Teresa” in a bunch of different tones and emphasis hoping to strike a key of familiarity. One man stared at me, booze engulfing his breath, grabbed my paper and said “English English” and started running away.
I ran after him and took it back. I was getting nowhere fast. I decide to go back on the Main Street and ask one of the seedy hotels for help. I took off my shoes and put on these sandals that I think I was supposed to put on. Once again communication failure. They didn’t understand a lick of what I was saying. I think I looked as if I would cry.
I pointed to the phone and dialed the number. Brother Noas answered almost with a chuckle in his voice. “ I expected this call from you. Where are you?” I told him the hotel name. He told me to look for a grocery store in the next few blocks and they were in the alley behind.
“Oh okay.” I said and hung up. Great. Another alleyway.
So I kept walking and walking and saw a grocery store or what I thought would be a grocery store. I walked around to the alley. I was starting the get turned around again and somehow I was back in the alleyway with the crazy guy. I sighed. I walked a block more in the direction I hadn’t gone before. I saw what looked like a Mother Mary statue. I stopped. The building was square and dark grey. “I wonder...” I began to think. Then the door popped open “Jodie welcome!” It was brother Noas. “Here come in and take your shoes off.” His kind eyes were a light grey and I smiled. I nervously took off my shoes. He handed me a pair of sandals from a cubby. The door was still open to outside and I noticed the small silver plaquer by the door.
Brother Noas seemed to be in a hurry. “Sorry Jodie, I have to go to the bridge on my bike to our weekly spot.” I looked out the doorway. The brothers were scrambling to climb on bikes with metal baskets filled with plastic containers. “Do you want to come with us?” A small brown man with an adorable raspy voice asked me from afar. “No thank you.” I said because I haven't rode a bike in so long and he smiled and they got on the bikes in their dark brown robes and left. I walked upstairs to the smell of delicious curry. I was sweating and nervous, guarding my backpack over cautiously as I noticed homeless wandering around the house. I put my bag in the corner of a small room and put my money in my bra. I felt red in the face for having the thought of theft in such a place. And preventing the theft by sticking money in my bra strap in a MOTHER TERESA house.
"What if I lost my money and I'm stuck in Japan?" I argued with myself justifying my actions. "What if the homeless steal my entire bag? "
“How silly am I being?” I am at a Mother Teresa house and I’m scared and guarding my stuff?
I kept the money next to my heart (the wrong place for it, truly.) Right then I looked up and snapped this photo. I almost forgot why I had came here all along. I would learn trust, patience and unyielding discpline in the next few weeks.